500,000 views and still growing

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Dear loyal blog followers,

Thank you so much for taking my view count to just a smidge over 500,000 views in just five years. I know from your comments, purchases and much needed ad revenue that you still find my corner of the internet interesting enough to visit regularly. To each one of you, thank you :)

Can’t wait to get to the million mark!

Neil

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Background Check: Day 3

BC_participantDay 3 of my online card class, and they’ve introduced a fab idea – a ‘design break’. A chance to use what we’ve learnt in class to make cards. I didn’t have chance yesterday as I was prepping for a large workshop (news of this released next week…), so I’ve been making the cards this morning before today’s class is released. Here are my makes:

The text is all self-designed and cut from 300gsm card on my Silhouette Cameo. Colour added with distress inks, direct to paper. I love the results of some of these – not styles I would have immediately gone for, but very effective cards. Now to go and see what Day 4 has in store!

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Background Check: Day 2

BC_participantIt’s Day 2 of my online class, and we’re playing with stamps and inks to make backgrounds. In the main today was revising techniques I’ve previously come across, but always good to see them used in imaginative ways by the tutors and yank them back to the forefront of my memory! Here’s today’s highlights:

Lots of stripes, and not a stripe stamp in sight. What’s a man to do? Go find some funky foam and cut that into strips. Add a bit of removable double sided tape, and ta da, strippy stripy stamps and backgrounds :)

I also like the idea of working more on mid-tone cardstock. I remember in college working on a charcoal ground and getting on better – you can use light and dark shades to emphasise shape, form and, in this case, pattern. I’ve been doing some zentangling on Strathmore Toned Gray Artist’s Tiles and finding the same (more of that in another post).

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Art Journal Page: What’s in a word?

IMG_6274For those that don’t know, I have recurrent depression, with relatively frequent episodes of lows and pretty good recovery in between. You may correctly guess I’m struggling at the moment, based on my art journal reflections today (which are based on my ruminations in the shower this morning). Now, I don’t normally share autobiographical stuff, but the topic of depression is being discussed elsewhere in the crafting world and I felt moved to share my own experiences of this mental (absence of) health issue – the more we talk about mental illness, the less threatening it might be for someone else.

What’s in a word? Recurrent – it’s a cruel word. You don’t hear of people being recurrently happy. Or recurrent joy. Those too can be ‘unending’ but recurrent has it’s root in the Latin to ‘turn back’. And with recurrent depression, it’s like that – only a passive result of chemicals misbehaving rather than a conscious turning from ‘health’. It’s especially cruel, I think, as recovery between makes the downs even more difficult to deal with. Though medication is helping, and next week I’m going to be discussing throwing a mood stabiliser into the mix as well, there’s not a lot I can do to stop an episode occurring. Or recurring. Resilience disappears out of the window in the middle of an episode, and everything is an effort. I am lucky enough to be aware enough not to curl up in a ball, and capable enough to at least do some of my normal activities – even if they take up twice as much time and energy as they otherwise would. I am lucky enough to still have hope – I know at some point the bleakness will lift. It’s the not knowing exactly when, or how long for that’s the killer. And on that topic, I’m also blessed not to have suicidal thoughts or ideas that often accompany depression – but I so understand where they come from. I am supported by an extremely understanding wife and a close group of church friends, and indeed customers, who cope with me whatever state I happen to be in – and that’s worth keeping going for.

Back to business: background is acrylic paints in teal/brown/black – I think they were part brayered on, part swiped. Main word is stamped in Hickory Smoke Distress Paint. Rest of text in Sharpies.

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Background Check: Day 1

BC_participantI’m taking part in Online Card Classes’ Background Check, and it’s Day 1, and time to get inky! Some of the techniques aren’t new to me, but a couple are, and a great addition to my mixed media arsenal. Here are the highlights of this afternoon’s play:

I have to admit the cloud on the sunset was a happy accident – my not so low-tack tape happened to tear off my carefully blended area, so a little more ink and a cloud was born! The metallic like sheen on the purple image is also accidental – the Hero Art Ombré pads do seem to have an unpredictable effect when used direct to paper.

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Art Journal Page: One Voice

IMG_6265_wI promise this is the last page (for now) with the wooden block prints – just in case you’re getting bored… I’ve got enough done now to demonstrate what can be done with them at my Art Journal Session at the beginning of August. This one is a little more of a creative statement highlighting the quotation – I love how the Walnut Stain Distress Ink rubbed over the collaged speech bubbles has made them look grubby as well as making them recede into the background. Enough said, I think.

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Art Journal Page: Simply Marvellous

IMG_6264_wAnother journal page using my new wooden block stamps – they work so well with the Dylusions paint. It’s just the right consistency to cover the stamp, stick to the page, and not squidge everywhere. Unfortunately it wasn’t quite the same when I used rubber stamps, which squeezed the paint away giving me the tramline outline that I then had to fill in with a paintbrush.

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Art Journal Page: Framing Worry

IMG_6261_wMore block printing with my new wooden blocks – this time in Dylusions Crushed Grape and White Linen acrylic paints over a brown/pink/orange acrylic paint background. I’ve added shading with water-soluble graphite and Vintage Photo/Walnut Stain Distress Inks. The text is drawn freehand with Signo Broad white gel pen and embellished with the fine tip version.

The spacing of everything is unplanned when I start… it just so happened that four of the blocks fitted in the height of the page, and the fold breaks the pattern and fools the eye, so it’s not immediately obvious there’d have been an overlap if it had been on a flat sheet of A4. I printed the vertical white framing first, and then spaced the horizontal accordingly. How I manage to fit in the text whilst worrying (ha!) that I’m going to miss out a letter or misspell the word is beyond me, but I seemed to have managed it.

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